Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Long Will It Take From Point A to Point B: Book Time

When planning a trip, it is useful (and depending on where you are going, very important) to have a reasonable guesstimate of how long it will take you to get from point A to point B. Clearly, there are many factors that come in to play when calculating how long it will take for you to cover the 15 miles from where you packed up your camp in the morning to where you are hoping be setting up your tent that evening. These factors include, but are definitely not limited to, weather, weight of pack, difficulty of terrain, number of breaks, amount of sight-seeing, etc. And if you're traveling in winter, well, then the snow will definitely slow you down some more.

However, a rule of thumb that is often used is called "Book Time." This is a simple rule that assumes that you travel 2 miles an hour and adds an additional 30 minutes for every 1,000 ft of elevation gain. So, if you are traveling 10 miles and are expecting a 1,000 ft elevation gain over those 10 miles, the book time is 5.5 hours (5 hours for the distance, and 30 minutes for the 1,000 feet). Below you will find a simple calculator that will compute this for you. As a side note, a similar rule was put forth by Scottish mountaineer William Naismith in 1892 and is aptly named Naismith's Rule.

One thing to keep in mind is that book time is only meant to help you plan your trip. The more you hike, the more you are likely to know if this guideline fits your walking pace. Furthermore, you can adjust it accordingly and get a much more accurate time. Remember, if you are traveling in a group, you need to plan according to the slowest hiker.

Importantly, keep in mind that this is not meant as a measuring stick of how good of a hiker you are; just because you are slower than book time, doesn't mean you don't know what you're doing. Similarly, just because you are faster, doesn't mean you are enjoying your hike more than the slower person.

A Simple Book Time Calculator

Here is a simple calculator that uses the aforementioned rule to calculate the time (in hours) for your trip. Remember, this is only a guideline and should not be used as a hard and fast rule!

The distance to be traveled (in miles):
The elevation gain (in feet):
According to book time, your trip should take you 5.5 hours (5 hours for the distance, and 0.5 hours for the elevation gain).

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